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HSE to apologise for failure to provide appropriate hearing assessments to children


The Health Service Executive is to apologise to almost 50 families in the west of Ireland for serious failings in audiology services provided to their children.

HSE Audiology Review

This follows the completion of a review of past paediatric audiology services provided in more than 900 cases by one audiologist in Mayo and Roscommon, between 2011 to 2015. This audiologist worked in the Mayo and Roscommon areas over a decade from the early 2000’s, providing paediatric audiology services. Of the more than 900 cases examined, 49 children have been found to be affected. This review follows the HSE having to action another audiology report from 2011 by the National Audiology Review Group (NARG) who convened in September 2009 to conduct an extensive examination of audiology services in Ireland, which found that the HSE had “serious shortcomings” in audiology services nationwide. Those inadequacies in audiology services resulted in several thousand patients on waiting lists for up to five years for a new assessment and hearing aid fitting.
“Due to the urgent need for good quality data to safely manage patient care, waiting lists, monitor outcomes, manage stock control efficiently and improve on the efficiency of clinical time, the procurement of a national clinical management system for audiology is a key priority of the Integrated Audiology Programme (IAP),”

the Executive said.

The programme RTÉ Investigates has reported that the HSE is expected to write to the affected families in coming days to provide them with details of the report, and acknowledging the failings identified either “increased the risk of a missed diagnosis” or “a poor outcome” for the affected children.
HSE Audiology Review

Missed Diagnosis and Failure to Provide Appropriate Hearing Assessments

The missed diagnosis and/or failure to provide appropriate hearing assessments may leave some children with lifelong hearing impairments.

Hearing Assessments did not meet national audiology standards

The clinical team who undertook the review found that in the cases examined hearing assessments conducted did not meet national audiology standards. The report also includes various recommendations including necessary changes to practices and procedures that are to be implemented at both local and national level.

Key Failures Identified

Among the key failures identified are:
  • Failure to determine the model of paediatric audiology service provided.
  • Hearing aid management (fitting/verification/validation) was not performed as per relevant guidelines at fitting or review appointments.
  • There was inadequate clinical governance in place to audit and monitor service provision.
  • Poor record keeping.
However, the HSE said all affected children who required a recall have been offered follow-up appointments and in the majority of cases those clinical follow-ups have been accepted. In a statement to RTÉ Investigates, the HSE confirmed all affected families were informed the auditory services audit was taking place and the HSE is finalising plans to share full details with them in the coming days. The audiologist at the centre of the report may also have worked in other parts of the country outside the Mayo and Roscommon areas. It is believed the audiologist has been suspended from practising here and no longer provides services in the Republic of Ireland. Some parents of the affected children have already commenced legal actions against the HSE.

CONTACT OUR MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE SOLICITORS

Coleman Legal have received instructions from affected families. If your child has been affected you can contact our Medical Negligence solicitors to discuss how to vindicate your child’s rights.

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